Belmont Abbey senior guard Chris Davis led all scorers with a career-high 31 points, but North Georgia outscored the Crusaders 50-42 in the second half after the teams were separated by just two points at the break to earn a 92-82 victory this evening in the Wheeler Center. North Georgia evens its record at 3-3, while the Abbey falls to 3-7.
The Crusaders started quickly, scoring the first five points of the game and would regain it after the Nighthawks used a 16-4 run to overtake the Abbey's lead and build a 16-10 lead of its own.
Belmont Abbey fired right back with a 14-2 run over the next 4:53 to open up a 25-18 lead. The Nighthawks closed to within two, but the Crusaders again answered the bell with four straight points to move out to a 29-25 lead with 6:09 to play.
North Georgia closed the half on a 17-10 run, which included six of the last eight points of the half, to carry a 42-40 lead into the break. The last Crusader lead of the half came on a Jonathon Garrett bucket with 1:20 showing, but the Nighthawks deadlocked the game for the fifth time on its next possession and took the lead for good on a traditional three-point play.
The Nighthawks led for the duration of the second half, but the Abbey stayed close, never getting behind by more than nine points and closing to within three on several occasions, the last coming at 64-61 with 8:55 to play, as Justin Kuhlman swished a three-pointer.
North Georgia began to pull away, however, as it began to make free throws after the Crusaders were forced to foul. The cushion moved to as high as 14 at 90-76 with 52 seconds left.
Belmont Abbey sliced the lead down to eight with 22 seconds left on a Davis layup, but North Georgia closed the scoring on two free throws with 18 seconds left.
The Crusaders shot 39.7 percent as Davis led all scorers with 31 points on nine of 16 shooting. He also sank 12 of 14 from the line to go along with five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Darryl Durham added 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Garrett added 14 points and 12 boards.
North Georgia shot a blistering 64 percent in the first half as Lamar Richardson scored 18 in the first half on 6-6 shooting, all from three-point range. That would be his total for the game, however, as he finished 0-6 from the floor in the second half. Ishmael Hollis led the Nighthawks with 30 points and nine rebounds.